July 19, 2011

Gifts in Church Planting

We have not done this church planting thing alone. We couldn't have, that's for sure.

I cannot reiterate how little this church plant has to do with us or what we've done. A heart cannot be changed, nor can a group of hearts be welded together without the movement of God. Through our meager seeds, He has produced fruit. I pray He continues to do so.

In all this, too, He has called others alongside us--what might be called our core group. When we moved here, we asked people we loved to come with us. Most people laughed in our faces, some who fervently sought God's guidance were led elsewhere, and a brave few attached themselves to our calling, taking it on as their own. We were six: Kyle and me, Bill, Nick, Faith, and Marylyn.

Without them, I would have shriveled up in the fetal position in my bedroom.

I have asked Marylyn to share on the blog today and tomorrow about her experience as a part of the church planting team. Before this adventure, I knew her as a college student faithfully serving in our college ministry. Now, she is a trusted friend and confidant that I love dearly. She has also served as our children's ministry coordinator while working and going to grad school.

At our recent July 4th outreach event, we stood next to each other watching the fireworks and all I could think about was the gift she has been to me and to my family, our city, and our church. This, after we ran through the rain together to save the hundreds of helium balloons blowing away in the wind, but that's another story.
The picture is kind of blurry, but this is our group after a rainy, muddy July 4th outreach event. Marylyn is the front and center with a used-to-be white skirt on.
Why posts from a core team member under the banner of 30 Days of Encouragement for the Church Planter's Wife? Because I so often forget that I am not alone, that there are others who have walked beside me all along. They know what it's like so their encouragement is deep and effective. These relationships are gifts.

Just knowing they are there is encouragement in itself.

What have been your challenges/struggles as a member of the church planting core team?

I think many of the challenges that the wife of a church planter faces are the challenges of those that are a part of the core team. We all serve in areas that we are not necessarily gifted in at the beginning. We all build new relationships. And we all face discouragement and spiritual attack.  However, there are differences in our experiences.  Employment has been a big struggle for anyone that has moved here to be a part of our church.  We have all worked jobs that are less than satisfying for a season and have sacrificed having jobs that are meaningful and life-giving for jobs that pay the bills.  As someone that is single, I have struggled with loneliness and looked at friends who have a partner, longing to have someone on my team to support me in my work here.  There have been moments when I have just wanted to leave and move somewhere where I was more comfortable, where I could just show up and not be depended on, where people didn’t know my struggle and my sin.  And as a core team member, it is much easier for us to leave than it would be for the pastor or his wife.  At times, it is difficult to stay, especially when faced the issues I just mentioned.

What have you learned by being a part of a church plant?

Despite the fact that church planting is hard--harder than I ever imagined--I have experienced some of the greatest blessings from being a part of our church plant. I know God more deeply and am learning to trust him fully since having moved here. I’ve grown in my belief and dependence on the truth of the Gospel.  I know my pastors well. I am so grateful that I can see that the truth they talk about on Sunday is truth they live on Monday.  I also know that they aren’t perfect, and their authenticity encourages me to rest in the grace of God.  I can remember where we started and can truly attest that God has brought us to where we are.  Seeing the goodness of God in our church is a tangible representation to me of God’s love.  Watching God provide opportunities and favor in our city has been so encouraging to see his powerful love for people who don’t know him.  It is the physical answer to prayer.

Next, Marylyn shares how the church planter and his wife can best minister to the core team members. Join us then!